Sergio Perez, Red Bull, Jeddah Corniche Circuit, 2023

Perez gets payback in Jeddah but Verstappen denies him championship lead

2023 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix review

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Within the clash of sciences that is Formula 1, where the forces of friction, downforce, magnetism and electricity collide, there is one mystical element that neither drivers nor teams can ever hope to tame – that of luck.

One year ago in Jeddah, Nicholas Latifi’s ill-timed trip into the barriers in the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix triggered a pivotal Safety Car which sank Sergio Perez’s hopes of victory as his team mate Max Verstappen and their Ferrari rivals duly took advantage to leave Perez out of the lead. But in 2023, it was as if fate came to repay its debt to Perez, as a sudden stroke of luck cost Verstappen pole position and ultimately enabled his team mate to claim what he was denied a year prior.

Prior to the sport’s arrival in Saudi Arabia, Red Bull had indicated the same daunting margin they enjoyed over their rivals in Bahrain would not translate to the revised Jeddah circuit. Over Friday and Saturday, they were shown to be correct – Red Bull were even further ahead of the chasing pack. Verstappen completed a perfect streak of fastest times across three practice sessions and looked imperious, but then Red Bull’s flawless start to the 2023 season encountered its first notable setbacks.

A sudden driveshaft failure in Q2 doomed Verstappen to start no higher than 15th on the grid. While Perez had served his purpose by holding onto pole position in his team mate’s absence, there were nervous scenes in the build-up to the race as Red Bull’s mechanics frantically stripped the gearbox from his car only to replace it soon after, satisfied it would prove no concern for the race ahead.

Alonso launched into the lead – but was soon penalised
With Verstappen frustrated by his car’s fault and Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc demoted ten places from his front row position at the end of qualifying, two of Perez’s greatest adversaries would be at least six rows behind him on the grid. However, he would instead face competition at the start in the form of Fernando Alonso – Aston Martin further confirming their status as the most formidable Mercedes-powered team in the field.

Only 220 metres separated the start line from the first corner, yet, when the race began, that distance was more than enough for Alonso to leap off the grid and draw alongside the Red Bull before they hit the brakes for the first of the 1,350 corners they would have to negotiate through the evening. Alonso claimed first, leaving Perez to slot in behind in front of George Russell, Carlos Sainz Jnr and Lance Stroll in the second Aston Martin.

“I didn’t get a good launch,” Perez later admitted. “It’s something I need to work with the engineers to make sure we fix that. Fernando just got a better start and we lost the position. But I knew that it was not the end of the world. It’s a 50-lap race.”

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As the field stampeded through the opening laps, the McLarens of Oscar Piastri and Lando Norris both suffered damage when debris from Piastri’s wing prised off from contact with Pierre Gasly struck his team mate behind. Both cars would be called into the pits for new front wings, effectively ending any hopes of first points for the Woking team.

Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, Jeddah Corniche Circuit, 2023
Leclerc made gains in the opening laps
As Alonso enjoyed leading a grand prix for only the third time since returning to F1 two years ago, his joy was tempered by the news from race engineer Chris Cronin that he had been handed a five-second time penalty for being outside of the strict confines of his grid slot at the start. As much satisfaction that Perez would have taken in knowing Alonso’s penalty effectively made him race leader, he wanted to claim that honour outright and used DRS along the pit straight at the start of lap four to cut up the inside of Alonso into turn one and emerge in the lead.

Back in the pack, Leclerc and Verstappen’s recoveries up the order were in full flow. By lap seven, both had gained four positions apiece, Leclerc moving to eighth with a expertly-judged move into turn one to dispatch Pierre Gasly’s Alpine. His next target was Lewis Hamilton, who had been warned for weaving during the opening laps, but the Mercedes’ hard tyres were no match for Leclerc’s softs and up the Ferrari went to seventh.

With a one-stop strategy the order of the day, managing the medium compound in the opening stint was the mission the majority of drivers shared. Of the front runners, Aston Martin were the first to make the call to box, bringing in Stroll at the end of lap 13, with Ferrari responding by pitting Sainz and Leclerc in laps 15 and 16 for the hard tyres. The latter move denied Verstappen the pleasure of passing Leclerc on-track, as the reigning champion had avoided making a move on the Ferrari into the final corner to gain the benefit of DRS out of it, only to watch his rival head for the pit lane after exiting the turn.

Leclerc emerged from his stop in front of Stroll – a sight that would have the Aston Martin driver cursing in his helmet. However, there would soon be far more pressing matters for Stroll to be concerned with as, at the exact same point on the circuit at which Verstappen’s driveshaft had failed on Saturday, Stroll suddenly received instructions to “stop the car” – his engineer repeating the call eight times in the space of ten seconds to underline the urgency of the situation.

Stroll did not hesitate to comply, pulling off in turn 13 and parking his car neatly in the access road between the barriers on the outside of the corner. But despite the Aston Martin appearing to be well out of danger, a full Safety Car was deployed by race director Niels Wittich – a decision the FIA later explained was due to camera angles of Stroll’s car available being unclear as to his position on the circuit, making a full neutralisation the safest option.

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Out front, Perez had avoided being caught out by the Safety Car for the second year running and immediately pitted for hard tyres. Alonso followed the leader in, his eight-second advantage over Russell’s Mercedes providing more than enough buffer for him to serve his five-second time penalty and retain second – effectively losing nothing from his starting transgression.

FIA Safety Car, Jeddah Corniche Circuit, 2023
The Safety Car did not deny Perez this time
The other driver to gain handsomely from Stroll’s retirement was Verstappen. Not only had he gladly accepted a free position from the Aston Martin, he had jumped both Ferraris and Hamilton’s Mercedes to sit fourth and gained 20 seconds on his team mate – immediately establishing himself as, at the very least, a podium contender.

When the Safety Car peeled on at the end of lap 20, Perez bided his time until he was almost crossing the back of the grid, storming to a lead of well over a second-and-a-half long before he has finished the second sector. Behind, Hamilton had finally got off the hards and was onto mediums, allowing him to swarm all over the back of Sainz’s Ferrari. A half-hearted look at the Ferrari into turn one became a switchback on the exit of turn two and Hamilton was up to fifth and now had his team mate’s car in sight for the first time in the race.

Soon it was Alonso who needed to be very concerned about his own mirrors as they were becoming full of Verstappen. The two champions of very different eras did not produce the most enthralling battle as Verstappen easily drew to the inside of Alonso along the pit straight and the Aston Martin driver offered no resistance. With that, Verstappen had completed a remarkable comeback from 15th all the way to second. And now only Perez could deny him a second consecutive victory in Jeddah.

(L to R): Fernando Alonso, Aston Martin; Max Verstappen, Red Bull; Jeddah Corniche Circuit, 2023
Verstappen’s move on Alonso for second place was undramatic
As Verstappen moved up to second behind him, Perez’s lead sat at just over five seconds. Over the next ten laps, the two leading Red Bulls traded the fastest lap of the race between then no fewer than eight times – Perez wanting to grow his advantage, Verstappen endeavouring to try and close down his team mate in pursuit of the win. But despite the two exchanging quickest times around the Jeddah Corniche Circuit, Verstappen only managed to shave around seventh tenths off Perez during those same ten laps.

Then, with 15 laps remaining, Verstappen suddenly reported some worrying news to engineer Gianpiero Lambiase.

“Okay, I feel like the driveshaft is running a bit rough,” Verstappen said. “It makes like a weird noise in high-speed [corners].”

Despite being reassured it was the simply his car’s brake balance offset he could feel, Verstappen was understandably anxious his evening might be ruined for the second day in a row by the same problem.

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“Mate, there’s something wrong,” Verstappen insisted, but with nothing on the car’s telemetry to suggest a problem existed, Red Bull continued to reassure their driver.

With Perez leading his team mate on course to complete the second Red Bull one-two of the second race of the season, he stood to leave Saudi Arabia with the championship lead over Verstappen based on the bonus point for fastest lap that he held as the laps began to tick down. Verstappen, it seemed, was all too aware of this.

George Russell, Mercedes, Jeddah Corniche Circuit, 2023
Mercedes alerted Russell to keep Alonso within range
“What’s the fastest lap?,” he enquired. “We are not concerned about that at the moment, Max,” Lambiase replied, coolly. “Yeah, but I am,” retorted Verstappen.

With Alonso in third having fallen significantly off the back of the Red Bulls, Perez was unable to let up his pace as Verstappen was continuing to run in the 1’32s in an apparent bid to try and make up the four seconds to Perez ahead. Perez, unsurprisingly, did not share his team mate’s appetite for a late showdown between the Red Bull drivers.

“We are pushing without a reason, guys,” Perez offered to his team. “But, up to you.” Perez was at least able to match anything Verstappen could throw at him. For the second straight race, the gap between the two Red Bull racers remained largely the same in the closing laps of the race.

“I think the team did a fantastic job in letting us race,” Perez later explained. “I just felt like there was a point where, for the last 10 laps or so, we had very similar pace – within a tenth, faster or slower. I just felt like the gap, it would have been probably a little bit less or a little bit more, but it wouldn’t have changed anything. But I was just thinking about the car.”

As Verstappen began to run out of time and laps to challenge his team mate for the lead, Russell was unexpectedly given a chance at fighting for the final podium position, despite being four seconds behind Alonso in third.

“There could be a possible penalty for Alonso at the end of the race,” Russell was told. “Gap 4.5.”

Alonso was about to be placed under investigation for his team failing to following the procedure currently when serving his penalty under the Safety Car some 30 laps earlier. Suddenly, getting within five seconds of Alonso was critical for Russell and he began pushing to his maximum to keep the gap under that barrier.

Out front, however, the laps had run out for Verstappen. Having to settle for second – still a strong turnaround from 15th after his qualifying failure, Verstappen turned his attentions to trying to snatch the fastest lap point from the leader to ensure he would continue to sit alone at the top of the championship table.

Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Jeddah Corniche Circuit, 2023
Fastest lap point kept Verstappen in the championship lead
As Perez entered the final lap and casually strolled over the line to secure his first win of the season and fifth of his career, Verstappen turned on the afterburners and blitzed his final lap to shave two tenths of Perez’s previous best and take the final point away from him. All despite using 32 lap-old hard tyres to achieve it.

Although Verstappen had kept him on his toes in the final laps, Perez was pleased to have regained an almost equal footing with Verstappen after the opening round.

“I did enjoy the race, to be honest,” Perez said. “I enjoyed it a lot, especially at the end, just pushing each other with the lap times, knowing that he went a tenth faster, a tenth slower, a tenth faster and it was all pretty intense.”

For Verstappen, failing to win a race he had looked set to dominate all weekend could never be satisfying. But he was still content with 19 points after how his situation had looked on Saturday.

“I think realistically with or without the Safety Car, I think P2 was the highest possible,” he reasoned. “The Safety Car, of course, helped me a bit to get back in the race.

“I’m fairly sure there was something odd going on with the balance since the vibration started to kick in. At one point, I did the calculations, and I wouldn’t have been able to close that gap to the end with only 10 laps left. So I think it’s more important to just settle for second, not having an issue with the car.”

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Despite Russell’s best efforts to break under five seconds of the Aston Martin ahead, Alonso crossed the line with advantage of 5.1s – and under no formal investigation for any alleged infraction. But over the following three-and-a-half hours, a carnival of absurdity played out in the paddock and the stewards’ room, with Alonso receiving his trophy on the podium before being forced to hand it to Russell when he was penalised ten seconds for his team breaking penalty procedure – only for his original position to be reinstated well after midnight.

Fernando Alonso, Aston Martin, Jeddah Corniche Circuit, 2023
Alonso lost third place – but only temporarily
“I am happy in the end with the result tonight and our second podium,” Alonso said after his position was finally confirmed. “We showed that we can be the second fastest team and we had good pace throughout the race.”

Russell had no qualms returning his third place trophy back to Alonso, given he never felt deserving of it in the first place. But his satisfaction in Mercedes being quicker than Ferrari across the weekend would have been enhanced by knowing he had been the faster of the two Mercedes drivers on the day.

For Ferrari, new team principal Frederic Vasseur lamented an “unacceptable” result, with sixth and seventh suggesting his team had only lost momentum after Bahrain, rather than regaining it as they had hoped they would.

Alpine secured a healthy helping of points with eighth for Esteban Ocon and ninth for Pierre Gasly, while Kevin Magnussen had to fight to claim the final point for Haas from Yuki Tsunoda in the closing laps – to the audible frustration of the AlphaTauri driver.

But for race winner Perez, there had been no frustration in Jeddah this time around. He may have been blessed by luck at his team mate’s expense on Saturday, but for the second race in 2023, Perez had appeared more capable of matching Verstappen’s pace in the second half of races than he had often shown last season. His growing confidence heading into the bulk of the new season was increasingly clear.

“It was a strong race, managing it well. I think we did a great job,” he said. “I don’t know if it’s my best weekend so far with the team, but I’m sure Melbourne will be even better.”

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Sergio Perez, Red Bull, Jeddah Corniche Circuit, 2023
Perez reclaimed the win he lost a year earlier

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Will Wood
Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...

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45 comments on “Perez gets payback in Jeddah but Verstappen denies him championship lead”

  1. I have an opinion
    20th March 2023, 7:56

    See, you don’t need to do something dangerous like intentionally hitting the wall to bring out the safety car — just have your race engineer tell you to urgently stop your car. Alonso is maturing.

    1. Ha. ha.

      Stroll stopped where no flag was necessary AND it made it less likely for him to stay ahead of Max.

      He lost a position because of it.

      1. Not even a yellow flag was merited and the GPS aspect was just an excuse. I said F1 now throws an SC if they see a bird’s shadow on the track a couple months ago and I wasn’t wrong. I don’t like danger for danger’s sake, but since about 2020 F1 seems to not accept even the slightest risk with no real wet running and any car off the track, no matter how far out of danger, getting a SC. That’s why the SC was deployed for Stroll because they now operate on the assumption if it’s not in pit lane, it’s too dangerous. F1 is safer than almost every single sport now and way safer than karting, club racing, etc. It’s a joke.

        As for the rest of the penalties, have they ever heard of discretion? Remember when they use to just “note” ticky tacky penalties and not punish them? The grid penalty wasn’t necessary. As Coulthard said, Alonso only disadvantaged himself by being even further into the dirty line. Yes, we can’t have people being two feet outside their box, but come on. Ocon didn’t merit a penalty either. This is nanny state stuff.

        Whiting wouldn’t have issued penalties for any of this. He had common sense. If it didn’t impart an advantage or safety risk (like an unsafe release), it almost never got a penalty. They need to hire an experienced director from another series who is not going to be intimidated by media headlines or whining team principals.

        1. They need to hire an experienced director from another series who is not going to be intimidated by media headlines or whining team principals.

          Absolutely, but this is a much broader problem than just the race directing. The whole Concord Agreement cartel needs to be broken up and the power of the teams needs to be reduced dramatically.

          Right now they can boss the FIA around, get them to rewrite the rules midseason, bully away race directors, prevent stewards from issuing penalties even for safety issues, and their drivers know they’ll never get a race ban because the FIA just stops handing out penalty points whenever they moan load enough.

          1. I don’t believe they can or do stop handing out penalty points to drivers moaning. They don’t need to change the rules to reduce the power of the owners. Your’re talking about technical rules. They just need to ensure that the person they’re hiring it’s not just a veteran, but a guy like Whiting who won’t be intimidated just because it’s Ferrari or Mercedes (or Max or Lewis for that matter) complaining.

          2. One more thing. It’s going to also take the support of the FIA and F1. If those two organizations want the virtually safety cars and/or safety cars thrown every time a car pulls off track, don’t want drivers to race in spray and enforce everything to the letter rather than the spirit, it won’t matter how good they are.

  2. Yeah, Max is an Ahole. And Red Bull is clearly not going to give Perez equal chances. Not that we learn’t anything new there (I doubt Perez would have been much surprised to learn this either).

    But then, Perez is winning races in the fastest car on the grid, so hard to complain as a racer. The best he can do is keep as close to Max on speed as he can and always be there to pick up if/when something comes in the way for Max. Like he did this weekend.

    1. @bascb Honest question, why is Verstappen an Ahole to go for fastest lap and the championship lead? Isn’t that what it’s all about, maximising your points and leading the championship? I recall no message from Red Bull that specifically forbids Verstappen to to go for the fastest lap.

      1. Its the world upside down indeed. Why would we want so see a racing driver get the fastest lap? Today we rather want to see him displaying socially correct behavior towards his team mate. After all we are not watching sports. Oh wait..

    2. @bascb:
      I disagree completely*. The situation has been made out like there was “the fastest lap incident”. But if you just look at the facts, nothing happened. Or, if you want to nitpick, it was just Perez being thick.

      Neither was forbidden to better/improve flap. The discussions on this board seem to narrow down on how Perez might feel he is battling Verstappen and his own team. But in reality there was an actual race going on. He was basically the only one slowing down in the end there. Even Alonso was only half a tenth away from beating him! Russell, also pushing was just 2,5 tenths shy. This wasn’t just about a RBR team fight where teamorders were blatantly disobeyed or something, although a lot of people seem to make it look like that.

      Perez should have figured it out himself that to maximize his points he should have tried. But maybe he feels his race engineer should remind him to try and better his own flap because it was under threat of Russell, Alonso and Verstappen?? Still.. I feel this one is on Perez. Didn’t he pay attention to what happened in previous seasons** between Mercedes and RBR for instance? There were many attempts at flap when there was the opportunity by both teams.

      *I don’t disagree on you slagging him off for being aholish though, but do that after him refusing to swap with Perez last season
      **except last season of course

    3. I don’t think Sergio has learned it fully. How does he not realize by now Max isn’t going to leave a single place on the table? He should have had the self-initiative to go for fast lap. At this point, I have no sympathy for him. I did before, but if he still hasn’t learned how Max works that’s his fault.

      1. Single point* (but, actually, place too)

      2. I think the issue might be that Red Bull would step in to act against him if he doesn’t do what the team aks him to do Nick T.

        Sergio is surely not blind to reality to think they would allow him to just take points away from Max. He might even have been relieved they did not try to find some reason to have him drop behind Max!

        And no, we need’nt pity Sergio for where he is at either.

        He must have know what he signed up for last year – be the number two driver in currently and for the foreseeable future the best team with the fastest car who is expected to take any point that is left on the table when Max cannot deliver them, and take as many points from the other championship contenders when Max is maximising the points.
        He made that choice. And one can hardly blame him for it (after all, it IS the best car, and you can always hope for oppertunities).

        1. Indeed, as hard as it is, it’s easier to beat verstappen if you are in the same car than a car miles off the pace, I don’t see anyone better off than perez this year to do that, despite the fact there’s really good drivers in other cars.

    4. Yeah, Max is an Ahole.

      Verstappen is trying to win his third F1 title. Pérez isn’t going to win anything but a race here and there, and that’s not because Red Bull doesn’t want him to win. They would love a Mexican World Champion, and two champions in the same team is excellent stuff.

      Pérez taking the fastest lap point is a sideshow. It doesn’t matter, and it’s also rather odd that he’s allegedly annoyed about this; it was just a few months ago that Pérez made the rather rude and personal jibe that Verstappen “showed what he’s really like”.

      Verstappen will take each and every point he can. And good for him!

      1. To the limit of sportsmanship ofc, I didn’t really like brazil.

    5. Lovely. As expected the comments criticizing my view come mostly from fellow Dutchmen!

      Well, guys, if you have followed the last years of F1, every time Verstappen was in a position to show a bit of team spirit and help or just not push the point of taking something from his teammate just because he could or just take all he can for himself, he did the latter @matthijs, Baasbas. Sure, a real race driver etc etc. The fans loved that ruthlessnes in other drivers as well. And yeah, it might make them a great racer. But not a great human being. Max is very clearly the first. The second, not so much.

      It also shows off badly on the team IMO. But hey, I get that many like exactly that winner takes all view from both Max and from Red Bull. I just don’t. I value more things from drivers (and teams).

      1. @bascb:
        With this specific comment you imply a lot. Between the lines I feel you paint a picture of orange clad 2-year-f1-fans who lap up everything their hero does, producing lots of noise in the process. While I agree that category exists, annoyingly, I refuse to be grouped with those and therefore object strongly to you implying so..

        I’m fine with your Verstappen call-out if it were for Brazil last year. But not for this non-issue. This flap point was not an inter-team battle you make it out to be. Look at the time sheets. Perez had it at the moment, but in the end it was contested by 4 drivers. Russell came close and Alonso almost beat Perez, he came shy just half a tenth. Verstappen went for it, Perez didn’t defend his flap point against Russel, Alonso and Verstappen. Don’t make this a team feud, four drivers were in it. And if Perez isn’t bothered about maximizing his result he shouldn’t complain publicly about it afterwards either. But that is just my opinion.

      2. @bascb Not cool Bas. I follow F1 for more than 30 years and I am an F1-fan first before I am a Verstappen-fan. You don’t know me so don’t imply you know what I value. I leave it to this.

        1. Sorry you feel that way about it @matthijs. But the thing is, Max has shown us many times he just is not a nice guy. He IS a really fast, clever, talented and even gifted racer though.

          Reality is every time Max is criticized the first to try and almost uncritically cheer everything he does on as if it is great are Dutch fans.

          Their car is fast enough where the single point for the championship would only matter if Max were to seriously consider Perez a rival for the title – in reality it helps Max that the point is for RB already and doesn’t go to say Alonso, or Russel, or Leclerc, who might (IF RB runs into more car issues and or any of these teams somehow manages to catch up on speed, however unlikely that might seem right now), so there really was no good reason to take it from Perez apart from hammering down the fact that Max is the better driver and deserves to lead that championship.

          But that means that Max relies on the team being able to coax Perez into supporting Max’ championship-bid if needed later in the year, regardless. That kind of thing doesn’t work long term for people. Just compare how Schumacher treated most of his teammates, they often did the job also out of respect and loyalty to him, not just for the team. That won’t happen for Max because of his attitude. I think he feels he doesn’t need the help anyhow, and he might be right, for now.

          1. @bascb I feel that way because you insulted me Bas. I don’t think that Verstappen is a really nice person but he is a true racer. I am not annoyed if he goes for the fastest lap because it warrants a point and I don’t feel that he screwed Perez over doing it. I do feel that Verstappen on other occasions screwed over Perez and I don’t like that, just as you. I normally cheer for the ‘gentlemans’ like Button, Hakkinen, Hill. But you also know that Vettel, who in my book is one of the most likeable drivers I have experienced, also screwed over his teammate more than once (Multi21). So being nice does not mean that you don’t try to maximize on the circuit.

          2. Well, I guess i cannot help you feeling insulted by me pointing out this was another instance of max showing how “ruthless” he is in persuing only singularily his own advantage @matthijs.

            Regardless, i am sorry I made you feel like that with my comment.

            You certainly are right that Vettel has also shown (just as Alonso, Hamilton, Lauda and Schumacher and many many others before that) that maximising the results often means not behaving in a way that we generally feel is good behaviour outside of this competitive environment. And being likeable does not mean a driver cannot also behave ruthlessly on track.

            It just goes to show that we far too often tend to idealise sporting heroes. Vettel deserves respect for his achievements on track, as certainly Max does as well. But that does not tell us much about nice they are as humans (and off course people also change a LOT over time with more life experiences)

      3. Sounds like the traits of a World Champion or any athlete that performs on world class level. I would rather see all the other drivers that do not have this attitude go away since they do not understand the essence of competing at world class level. This is not go karts, but I understand the confusion after all Liberty has done to turn this sport into a circus.

  3. Roth Man (@rdotquestionmark)
    20th March 2023, 10:46

    Who wants to bet that Sergio’s car suddenly becomes less drivable and he loses half a second a lap to Max for a few months until no longer a threat?

    1. @rdotquestionmark I bet against it. Why would Red Bull do that? They have no opposition at the moment and there is no clear indication that Perez will truly be better/faster than Verstappen over the course of an entire season.

      1. Roth Man (@rdotquestionmark)
        20th March 2023, 12:50

        I’m just having fun @matthijs. At the end of the day there’s no way Sergio can compete with Max over a season. That being said I think it’s naive to think some underhand games don’t happen to number 2 drivers sometimes. We saw it at Benetton with Schumacher and we’ve seen Ferrari sabotage their number 2 on many occasions.

        1. The difference back in those days is that is really was hard to make both cars equally reliable and fast. That requires going through thousands of parts and weighing and measuring them among other things. Technical precision makes it much easier to do now.

          1. Roth Man (@rdotquestionmark)
            20th March 2023, 14:25

            Yeah back in the day when they used a whittlin jack for carving parts on poor Barrichello’s car

    2. He already does that. He needs VER to have technical issues to be in the same range.

    3. They don’t need to do that because Max is already so much faster. Max is 45-5 against SP in quali. They could begin developing the chassis solely to suit Perez and it would make little difference.

  4. Hamilton says that he has never seen a car this fast, and even when he was dominant that it wasn’t that dominant compared to the rest of the field.


    1. yeah I think he has forgotten about 2014-2019.

      1. I think those using those years to dismiss what Hamilton has said defiantly forgot those years.

      2. This is VERY inaccurate: 2014-2016 were indeed very dominant, 2017 merc was marginally faster, 2018 ferrari was as fast as mercedes, 2019 was again pretty dominant, think about the 2001 ferrari for a comparison, and you completely forgot 2020, which was as dominant as 2014-2016.

    2. Whats eating Lewis? He seems demotivated. Hasnt anyone told him F1 is usually like this and he was just very fortunate to have driven the fastest car? Does he seriously still believe it was all him and is he only now waking up to reality?!

      1. Indeed, although on this subject I’m not so against hamilton because he admitted he’d only have 1 title had he stayed at mclaren, I’m more against the hamilton fans that say he’s the best ever etc., the car matters too much for hamilton to be considered the best just cause of his statistics, as I recall he has like 20-30 wins without a dominant car, schumacher 50, just to give an idea of the amount of fighting they had to do to win, and it’s hamilton that is an outlier, normally drivers don’t have such a good car for that long, just look at alonso, I think he has 32 wins and not a single one was with a dominant car, he never really had a dominant car, although I guess he had the best car for a big part of 2005 and 2006 (fast doesn’t equal best).

      2. (a) He’s emotionally-driven, just his makeup. Is that a problem? You’d prefer all drivers to be the same? I’d suggest Leclerc, for example, is a milder version but similar. Ricciardo, ditto. (b) You seem to forget the McLaren years after 2008 and the first year at Mercedes. True, he had the best or equal best car for a lengthy period. But you can’t seriously think he’s forgotten his own history?

    3. Yup, prior to 2019, the Mercedes had much more dominant gaps to the field. Max didn’t even lap very far up the field last week. It was routine for the Mercedes to AT LEAST lap into the top 10 and sometimes near to the podium places.

      1. Prior to 2019 is omitting info: prior to 2017 more like, plus 2020.

        Also, curiously, lapping used to be more typical in the 90s than now, that’s in part due to the rarer use of SC, but also the difference between the top teams and followers was massive back then, example in 1994 it happened a few times to either lap everyone up to 2nd or 3rd!

    4. Depends what you mean by dominant. When Mercedes were the dominant car they were quick when in clear air but struggled in traffic. The current Red Bull looks quick whether it’s in clear air or traffic.

      Basically if Hamilton, Rosberg or Bottas qualified 15th between 2014-2019, I don’t think they would have finished 2nd.

      1. Basically if Hamilton, Rosberg or Bottas qualified 15th between 2014-2019, I don’t think they would have finished 2nd.

        Mercedes started outside the top 10 a fair number of times in that period. I think these are all, ranked by finishing position:

        Germany 2018: Hamilton started 14th, finished 1st.
        Germany 2014: Hamilton started 20th, finished 3rd.
        Hungary 2014: Hamilton started 22nd, finished 3rd.
        Belgium 2016: Hamilton started 21st, finished 3rd.
        Brazil 2017: Hamilton started 20th, finished 4th.
        Belgium 2018: Bottas started 17th, finished 4th.
        Abu Dhabi 2018: Bottas started 20th, finished 4th.
        China 2016: Hamilton started 22nd, finished 7th.
        Monaco 2017: Hamilton started 13th, finished 7th.
        Australia 2018: Bottas started 15th, finished 8th.

        1. Oh wow, thanks for this. Did Rosberg not qualify outside the top 10? After this I should probably change my statement to “unlikely to finish 2nd”.

          1. Yes, I remember back in the dominant years recovering from the back to the podium was common, but typically someone (like ricciardo) managed to get inbetween the mercedes then, in this case SC or not there was no non-red bull driver that could hold off verstappen, same thing in spa 2022 and brazil 2021, in that case with hamilton.

            Also, I don’t remember if merc ever started very far back in 2020, but that was also a very dominant season, and even in 2019, which wasn’t as dominant, bottas went from last to 4th in abu dhabi, perhaps even in a rare non-drs race.

        2. OK, but that seems to prove @rob8k ‘s point, only 1 in 10 examples is second or better (first).
          Verstappen breezed past everyone with complete ease and then got stuck 4-5 second behind Perez.
          I think it’s fairer to say that there have typically been one or two, occasionally three dominant teams, and usually drivers from those teams could quite easily race their way from the back of the grid at race start back to the lead bunch of drivers. After that it was down to driver skill, strategy etc., relative performance how much progress they made towards getting on the podium or actually winning the race.

  5. What really is there to say? Even the Red Bull drivers know it’s just between them this season. Verstappen is better (a lot). And Red Bull want him to win the title. So congratulations to Max on his third title.
    The rest – Ferrari, Aston Martin, Mercedes, even Alpine?! – will be an interesting-ish battle in theory, but RBR winning everything at a canter will see a dent in F1’s commercial rise. It’s going to be a long season.

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